Disease is often manifested via changes in transcript and protein abundance. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are instrumental in regulating protein abundance and may measurably influence transcript levels. MicroRNAs often target more than one mRNA (for humans, the average is three), and mRNAs are often targeted by more than one miRNA (for the genes considered in this study, the average is also three). Therefore, it is difficult to determine the miRNAs that may cause the observed differential gene expression.
We present a novel approach, maTE, which is based on machine learning, that integrates information about miRNA target genes with gene expression data. maTE depends on the availability of a sufficient amount of patient and control samples. The samples are used to train classifiers to accurately classify the samples on a per miRNA basis. Multiple high scoring miRNAs are used to build a final classifier to improve separation.